The Confluence Part 1

June 3rd, 2011 by Wordsman

Officer Tang had a problem.

Unlike her colleague, Officer Escobar, she had no talent at not seeing problems.  Nor was she a person who could patiently wait around for problems to go away of their own accord, no matter how often other members of the LCPD told her that it really does happen.  Problems, she firmly believed, exist to be solved.  And when an unsolvable problem came along, one that stared her in the face every single day, it created an imbalance in her universe that was far beyond the power of baked goods to right.

As is often true of impossible situations, this one could be blamed on an old, dead white guy.  When the illustrious Bartholomew Phineas Taylor—tycoon, philanthropist, and all-around character—had finally died, his will specified that his Crescenton Subway System should be left, “to the people of this fine city, in perpetuity, to use as they see fit.”  Some historians argued that this was his most generous act, while others liked to cite a quote of dubious origin in which he stated that he had done it because he “never understood the point of the whole damn thing.”

Numerous legal precedents had established that, as the subway belonged to the people, just about anything they did in it was permissible, so long as it did not interfere with the running of the trains.  The standard joke was that you could get away with murder, which was appropriate, for there was an urban legend that old B.P. Taylor had originally had the tunnels dug so he could discreetly bury some of his competitors.

Officer Tang had no intention of letting anyone get away with murder, or any other act that could definitively be called a crime.  Loitering, sadly, did not fall into this category, not even when it persisted for weeks or months.  She did not blame the homeless for their predicament; she knew that most had no other choice.  But that did not make it any less wrong.  “A place for everything and everything in its place,” was one of her mottos.  People belonged in homes, where they had addresses and phone numbers and could be kept track of.  Just as pigeons belonged in parks, though if she had her way, there wouldn’t be any pigeons, either.

The fact that the woman had become something of an attraction added insult to injury.  It was only natural that she drew attention to herself.  Her presence raised so many questions: Who was she?  Where had she come from, and why?  Could she be exploited like some sort of sideshow freak?  One group had tried having her predict the outcomes of football games, but they gave up when she said the Cleveland Browns would win the Super Bowl.  She never answered any personal questions—and, perhaps out of reciprocity, no one ever gave a satisfactory answer to the questions she asked.

But to Officer Tang it just seemed like they were showcasing her failure.  She went on vacation for one week—one measly week!—and by the time she got back the Old Woman of Simon Park Station had shown up.  And, until the woman violated a freaking commandment, there was nothing she could do about it.

It would not have comforted her at all to learn that the woman would have liked nothing better than to leave, that she was, in fact, devoting every effort to getting away.  These facts would only have irritated the officer further, although she would have been hard-pressed to tell you exactly why.

As it was, Officer Tang walked her normal beat, driving injustice out of dark places and defending the innocent travelers on Crescenton’s underground rails.  Perhaps she was a little harsher with the criminals she could actually arrest, and perhaps she paid a little bit more attention to the old woman than was healthy.  She would have said that she was merely doing her duty as one of Crescenton’s finest.

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One Response

  1. Shirley Says:

    Can I hope that the feckless but likable Officer Escobar will be brought back into the story?

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